Divorced Women Lose Out On £337m A Year Due To Pensions Oversight

1 November 2017, 05:32

money

Divorced women in Scotland lose out on £337 million a year because pensions are not considered during break-up proceedings, according to a study.

Scottish Widows research shows seven out of 10 couples in the country would not take the payments into account when separating, leaving women "short-changed" by hundreds of millions of pounds.

Just 9% claimed they would want a fair share despite the average married couple's retirement pot totalling £109,000.

Catherine Stewart, retirement expert at Scottish Widows, said: "Generally speaking, women's retirement prospects are worse than men's.

"The persistent gender pay gap, maternity leave and career breaks can all hold back women's earning potential and this often impacts pension savings.

"Relationship breakdowns can leave people really vulnerable but, quite simply, they're also throwing significant sums of money down the drain.

"It is important that everyone - whether single, married or divorced - take steps to understand their finances and prepare for their independent future should a relationship break down.

"We would urge men and women to better understand the legalities around what happens to pension pots during divorce proceedings as often they are the second largest, if not the largest, asset a couple owns."

The survey shows women are less well prepared for retirement than men in Scotland, with 49% saving adequately for the future compared with 69% respectively.

Furthermore, 43% of women say their retirement prospects would become worse after a split, compared with just 28% of men.

Advice from the firm says the matter can be dealt with in a number of ways during divorce, with the starting point being to find out what pensions there are, what are they worth and how they fit with any other assets.

If an adjustment needs to be made to get a fair outcome after separation, this can be done by one person keeping their payments but the other getting more of the other assets.

Alternatively, the court can make a sharing order giving a percentage of one person's pension to the other while a combination of the two methods is also an option.

The research shows half of married people would fight for a fair share of any jointly-owned property and 32% would want to split their combined savings.

The study was carried out online by YouGov across a total of 5,314 adults in April, with additional research by Opinium across a total of 5,000 adults in September.